Spring break is upon us, and my family is planning a long roadtrip into the wilderness to rock climb, ski, and hit several national parks in Southern Utah. I’m a planner by nature. I like knowing where we’re going, when we’ll be doing certain things (generally speaking), and how we’re going to make those things happen. But I also like to have options. I like to be in the driver’s seat, so to speak, when we plan a trip.

As I was preparing our plan and getting all the checklists in order, it made me think about how this applies to business. As a business owner, planning for your business is vital to your overall success, and with the end of the quarter rolling around, it’s a perfect time to do a little sanity check to see where you are with your goals, formulate a plan for the next quarter, and recommit to your business. 

Strategic planning is a task that is easy to leave until the end of the year, but I want to challenge you to pause and take stock. Having a strategic plan for your business with regular check-ins is like being the driver behind the wheel. You’re in control of the pace your business is growing, where you’re planning to go, and how you get there. There’s some serious power in that. 

Too often, though, business owners are flying by the seat of their pants – effectively sitting in the passenger seat – because planning can seem like a big undertaking. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “It takes just as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” And I don’t know about you, but I didn’t leave corporate life to wing it on a wish and a prayer.

Building your plan and checking in regularly doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, I want to share my process for easy strategic planning. 

Focus on the big picture
Strategic planning begins with recommitting to your business. That’s why I like to start by revisiting my vision, mission, and values. When I know what I’m trying to create in the world – and why – I feel connected and can recommit to the path I’ve set for myself. As the driver of your business, your vision is the destination on your roadmap. It’s your North Star, and every decision you make should be one designed to get you closer to the goal.

Your mission is the core of your business. It’s what you do, who you serve, and how you serve that audience. Your values are they way in which you do that, and the connection you establish with others. These 3 pieces function like the climate control in your car, shaping the form, function, and feel of the entire journey.

4 Questions
After recommitting to the big picture, I deep dive into the answers to 4 questions.

1. Who are you serving?
2. What problem do you solve?
3. What is your business model and will it allow you to meet your financial goals?
4. What makes you unique?

The answers to these 4 questions will continue to shape the details of your business. When you intimately know WHO you’re serving, WHAT their biggest problem is, and HOW you help them solve it, your ability to connect, market, and create offers becomes that much more compelling. You business model is all about the capacity and volume. Over the years, we’ve switched up our business model from offering lots of little things to two very focused ways we serve clients. It’s simplified our business and makes the how of meeting our financial goals that much clearer. Your uniqueness – your story – is WHY people will choose to work with you. Don’t be afraid to own it and customize the details!

Build your plan
Given all the above, what are 1-3 goals for the quarter (3-5 for the year). This should include a revenue goal as well as other things you want to accomplish in your business. You can also factor in a high level look at how you’ll market your business, including the handful of promotional events you’ll be doing that quarter (year) to help you meet those revenue goals.

Take Action
I’m not sure who said it but “a plan without action is just a wish!” You have to get behind the wheel, turn on the car, and drive. And your 30-60-90 day action plan gives you a detailed roadmap – much like Google maps tells you exactly how to get there – of the path you’ll be taking. It’s also where you anticipate obstacles and develop contingency plans, so you don’t get derailed. Getting down into the details actually gives you an incredible amount of freedom because you also know your options… which makes the casual detour less stressful and more enjoyable.

If you’re ready to get behind the wheel and take control of your business, grab our Bring Your Business to Life Planner + 90 Days to Success Trello Board for free. Having a robust strategy and the tactics to get there is part of your competitive advantage as a business owner and makes the road trip fun!

P.S. Have you joined The Smart Girl Community yet? If you’re looking for a group of passionate, driven women entrepreneurs to help you build your business with a dose of humor and a lot of real talk, then this is THE place to be.